Championship Series AL Game 1: KC vs. BAL — A rainy extra innings push

It was a rainy day in Baltimore, and it turned into a rainy night in Baltimore. Not enough to deter or delay the game. No the lights from the TBS broadcasting desk in centerfield did that — yes, the TV set lights were annoying the catcher, batter, and umpire at home plate so much it delayed the start of the game. But no, it rained for most of the 4 hour 37 minute game. It made for interesting baseball, to say the least.

Baltimore and Kansas City faced off at Camden Yards for their first game in the best-of-7 ALCS. Going into the postseason, it was almost unbelievable that these would be the two teams to meet as the last stop before the World Series — the Royals, the underdogs, the upstarts, the extra-inning kings; against the Orioles, the dominant, the consistent, the just-under-the-surface power warriors. But what really is key in this series (and certainly was in the game) was the lack of really good pitching, something their opponents in the NLCS have in abundance. It certainly explains why the game ended up being quite a rollercoaster ride for the sold-out crowd at Camden Yards and at sports bars in Baltimore and Kansas City.

The Royals struck first with a solo home run in the 3rd inning, and then in the same inning, loaded bases allowed for a 3-RBI double to put them up 4-0 in the mid-3rd. An RBI single by the Orioles in the bottom of the 3rd put them on the board. And the aggressive competition began.

Neither starter was strong enough to hold off the big swings of both teams (Kansas City’s starter gave up 10 hits, 4 runs, and a walk in just 5 innings and 90 pitches; Baltimore’s allowed 7 hits, 5 runs, and 2 walks in 4.1 innings and 84 pitches), and neither team has really phenomenal bullpens to back up a weak start. So both teams kept advancing.

In the 5th, a sacrifice fly scored another Royals’ run. And then the Orioles scored 3 from an RBI double and a 2-RBI single to put them within 1 run, before tying up the game with an RBI single in the 6th. They both spent the rest of the game defending their tied game 5-5, taking it into extra innings once again. There were many times of close calls for both teams, even to the point of loading up the bases. But nothing amounted to much more than a threat.

So it was in the 10th that the dam broke open again. The Royals’ lead-off batter hit a solo home run to break the tie. A walk and a strikeout later, a 2-run home run pushed the Royals up to an 8-5 score. The Orioles would get one of those back on a 2-out RBI single at the bottom of the inning, but despite putting the tying run on base, they ran out of outs. The Royals won, 8-6 in 10 innings. And they now lead the ALCS 1-0.

And we have Yankee news! GM Brian Cashman has been re-signed to a 3-year contract extension, so he will be wheeling and dealing for the next few years for the Yankees. He has some big projects ahead of him this offseason with many holes to fill, certain free agent players to nail down, and a whole lot of planning for the future.

So in non-player personnel news, most of the coaching staff has been retained. However, the Yankees will be needing a new 1st base coach and a new hitting coach. Mick Kelleher’s contract was up this year, and the Yankees opted not to renew it. He’s been the Yankee’s 1st base coach and infield instructor since 2009 and with the Yankees overall for 16 years. The biggest reason for this change was to hear a new voice on infield strategy.

And in the new voices needed category, the Yankees let hitting coach Kevin Long go, despite one more year left on his contract. Long has spent the last 8 years as the Yankees’ hitting coach, and after a rather trying poor offensive year, both Long and the Yankees felt as if a new voice might be better at trying to pinpoint the Yankees’ offensive struggles and find a new strategy to develop them back into the power-house they really are.

Both Kelleher and Long are very well-respected in the league, so I wouldn’t be too concerned as they will probably be snapped up rather quickly to fill holes on other teams. It will be interesting to find out who the Yankees land to fill these roles and see how they fit into the coaching staff.

Once staffing roles are filled, the next step is players, which is usually all the public cares about. And there is a lot of talk about how Rodriguez will fit into the roster once again in 2015, but I suppose we’ll have to wait until Spring to figure that out, like everyone else will do.

Go Yankees!

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